George Starbuck

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George Starbuck
BornGeorge Edwin Starbuck
June 15, 1931
Columbus, Ohio
DiedAugust 15, 1996(1996-08-15) (aged 65)
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Alma materChadwick School
California Institute of Technology
University of California, Berkeley
American Academy in Rome
University of Chicago
Harvard University

George Edwin Starbuck (June 15, 1931 in Columbus, Ohio – August 15, 1996 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama) was an American poet of the neo-formalist school.


Starbuck studied at Chadwick School, the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, Berkeley, the American Academy in Rome, the University of Chicago, and Harvard University.[1] He also studied under Robert Lowell in the Boston University workshop with Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton.[2][3] He taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop, Boston University, and the State University of New York, Buffalo. He was fired by SUNY-Buffalo for not taking a loyalty oath, but was vindicated by the Supreme Court.[4][5][6] His students included Maxine Kumin, Peter Davison, Emily Hiestand, Mary Baine Campbell, Craig Lucas, James Hercules Sutton, and Askold Melnyczuk.[7]

Starbuck had five children: Margaret, Stephen, John, Anthony, and Joshua.[8] His papers are held at the University of Alabama library.[9]

Starbuck's work is marked by clever rhymes, witty asides, and the fusing of Romantic themes with cynicism about modern life. For example, his book Bone Thoughts was published with half its pages blank, and he called his style of formalism "SLABS" (Standard Length And Breadth Sonnets. He was not widely appreciated in the mainstream culture during his lifetime, but two new collections of his poems have been published in the last few years, Poems Selected from Five Decades and Visible Ink, helping win him a wider audience.

Starbuck's best-known poems include "Tuolumne," "On an Urban Battlefield," and "Sonnet With a Different Letter At the End of Every Line."


Partial bibliography[edit]

  • The Works: Poems Selected from Five Decades, University of Alabama Press, 2003
  • Translations from the English, University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), 2003
  • Visible Ink, University of Alabama Press, 2002
  • Space Saver Sonnets, Bits Press, 1986
  • Richard the Third in a Fourth of a Second, Bits Press, 1986
  • The Argot Merchant Disaster: Poems New and Selected, Little, Brown & Co. 1982
  • Talkin' B.A. Blues,Pym-Randall Press, 1980
  • Desperate Measures, D. R. Godine, August 1978
  • Elegy in a Country Churchyard, Pym-Randall Press, September 1975
  • White Paper, Little, Brown & Co. 1966
  • Bone Thoughts, Yale University Press, 1960


  • Lorrie Goldensohn, ed. (2006). "Of Late". American War Poetry: An Anthology. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-13310-4.


  1. ^ Jillian Frakes 2012 OR POL Champion. "Poetry Out Loud". Poetry Out Loud. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2012-11-23.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ McHenry, Eric. "Who Is George Starbuck, Anyway? - Slate Magazine". Retrieved 2012-11-23.
  5. ^ "Richard Lipsitz Papers, 1964-1967 at the State University of New York at Buffalo. University Archives". Retrieved 2012-11-23.
  6. ^ "345 F2d 236 Keyishian v. Board of Regents of University of State of New York C J a". OpenJurist. Retrieved 2012-11-23.
  7. ^ Harvard News Office (2004-02-19). "Harvard Gazette: Local Poet, Teacher George Starbuck Honored". Archived from the original on 2012-04-06. Retrieved 2012-11-23.
  8. ^ Jr, Robert Mcg Thomas (1996-08-17). "George Starbuck, Wry Poet, Is Dead at 65". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-07-02.
  9. ^ "W" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-11-23.

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